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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

326                               LIFE   OF
Hiimboldt writes to  Scliiller :   cc Home, 27th August.
I -write to you, dear friend, "with a sad heart.     I may
say that, since I live? the first misfortune has befallen
me,   but this  first  blow is  almost the  severest that
could  have  come."      His   eldest   son,   "Wilhelm.,   had
been suddenly carried off by a malignant fever.     The
child had scarcely been ill a few days.    .A slight attack
of fever was followed by violent bleeding of the nose.
The family was in   Ariccia,  but  Dr. TCohlrausch—a
doctor who did not perhaps merit such  confidence—
•was with them.    He did what he could, but in thirty-
six hours the boy fell a victim to the violence of the
attack.    cc His d^ath "—so writes his afflicted father—
cc was calm3 very calm ; he had cheerful dreams,—did
not suffer nor expect death.     He now lies at the foot
of the pyramid  of Caius  Cestus^ "which Ooethe  can
describe to you.    I  have lost very much with this
child.     Among them all, he was most fond of being:
with, me ; he scarcely ever left me., particularly during-
the last few months ; I occupied myself regularly with
liino ; he always walked with me, asked about every-
thing, knew most of the localities and the rains, and
was every one's favourite, because he spoke with all,
and in tolerably good Italian.     Now this is all gone !
This death has robbed me  of all my confidence in
life.     I trust no more to my fortune., to fate, to the
strength   of  events.      If  this   impetuous,   blooming^
strong life  could be  extinguished so suddenly, what
then is certain ?    And., on the other hand, I have all
at once gained an infinite conviction :  I never feared
death, nor had a childish love of life ; but if a being
we love is dead, the sensation is different.     We think
ourselves at home in two worlds/'
Immediately after this blow3 the family hastened to
the town, for a similar misfortune threatened another
child. The yocmgear boy, Theodor, was attacked by
the same illness^ a severe brain fever, only -with less
suddenly dangerous1 symptoms^ IFor three days his
recovery was despaired of, but he WHS savecL It may
•be ina^ioied itoir much the anxious mother suffered.